Face Time: Emily Spivack

Smithsonian fashion blogger, vintage fan

On Threaded, the Smithsonian Institution’s nascent-yet-fascinating fashion blog, editor Emily Spivack unearths “You don’t say!” facts about some of the collection’s most notable clothing and costume artifacts (Blogs.smithsonianmag.com/threaded). Unlike some fashion bloggers who tease you with trendy ensembles far out of your price range, the New York-based vintage-hound takes an anthropological approach to apparel and examines how the fashions of yore influence how we get dressed today.

Where did the idea for Threaded come from?
We have to wear clothing every day, and the blog is about examining it from a cultural and historical perspective. I’m drawn to seeing our history through the lens of clothing.

What’s the most interesting thing you’ve learned about the Smithsonian’s collection so far?
During my research on Mr. Rogers’ sweater, I learned that every single cardigan he wore on Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood was hand-knit by his mother. What an incredible fact! I love that the Smithsonian has the inaugural dresses, but I also love that they have this pop culture object we are so familiar with and have so many incredible memories associated with.

Is there a trend you’re happy to see go?
I’m not really looking at trends. I’m trying to tie it into things that are relevant and happening in the world around us. I’m doing a whole bathing suit series because it’s summer and we’re all sitting around in our bathing suits and I’m thinking, “How did this thing that I’m putting on evolve? What did it used to look like? Oh my gosh, people used to wear wool bathing suits and, what? They used to weigh 9 pounds?” It’s bringing attention to things that we overlook.

When did your love of clothing develop?
Ever since a friend took me into a Salvation Army when I was 13 or 14. There were all of these one-of-a-kind pieces as opposed to going to a department store and seeing a million of the same thing. I had kind of crazy style, but I had this interest in clothing more so than traditional fashion.

What other series are in the works?
One of the things I’m working on right now are public packing lists of famous people. The garments and accessories they consider essentials. What are the things well-known people can’t live without?

What is your favorite article of clothing that you own?
I still have a T-shirt from the first concert I went to. Embarrassingly, it was Milli Vanilli. I hold onto things that have meaning to them. They’re not fancy garments. But at the end of the day, those are the things that are most loved and we have the strongest attachment to.

Holley Simmons is the dining editor of The Washington Post Express. When she’s not reporting on local restaurants and tastemakers, you can find her sewing a dress from a 1950s pattern or planting a windowsill herb garden. Contact her at holley.simmons@wpost.com.
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